The God has two basic forms: The Young God of life, growth, and evolution. And the Old God of death, transformation, and involution. Each of these in tun has two forms: The Young God -the Hero and the Lover. The Old God -the King and the Sorceror. These might be thought of as the temperal and spiritual polarities of the two God forms: the Hero being the temperal aspect of the Young God, the Lover being the spiritual. Similarly, the King would be the temperal aspect of the Old God, and the Sorceror the spiritual.
The Hero then is the temperal or outward aspect of the Young God's energy. The Hero is the God of the spring, of dawn, and of beginings. His festival is the Spring Equinox and He is associated with the astrological sign Aries.
The Hero God represents independant young manhood. Energy, vitality, and growth are His attributes, as well as courage and strength. In former times the Hero was often thought of as a warrior, but He is also an athlete, an adventurer, a follower of quests.
The Hero is idealistic and virtuous, brave and true. The Hero is noble and chivalrous, a protector of the weak and defender of the just. The Hero is the bearer of new life, and the bestower of knowledge. He is the opener of new doors and the blazer of new trails. The Hero subdues and overcomes all problems.
The Hero represents the energy that pushes against all odds and eventually succeeds -He is the spirit in the seed pushing up through the soil, the green leaves unfolding their tender buds for the first time. He is the river water breaking through winter's ice, the animals emerging from their burrows -the spirit of life reawakened.
Like the Maiden Goddess, the Hero God is a patron of arts and sciences, a disseminator of knowledge. He is the "Culture Hero" Who teaches humankind the skills of civilization. It is the Hero God Who brings to humanity the Goddess' gift of agriculture: the Greek Triptolemus Who receives the gift of grain from Demeter, the Cherokee Inagi Who brings the world the corn and beans which Selv Tvia has produced from Her own body.
The Hero God is the son of the Goddess, and Her champion. He carries life back to the world with the spring, at His Mother's behest.
In the story of King Arthur, where the ancient Gods are portrayed as people, it is the Hero God in His form as Percival (or in some versions Galahad) Who successfully quests for the Grail, then brings it back to heal the stricken King: that is to say, the Hero uses the energy of the Goddess, here symbolized by the Grail, to renew the Earth after winter.
Often little difference is made between the Hero and the Lover. Frequently They are seen not as different aspects but as different phases of the Young God. Still other times the two forms may seem wholly different from each other. We will deal with the Lover God in the next lesson. Below follow several examples of the Hero:
APOLLO -Venerated by the Greeks and Romans, Apollo is the God of life force and vitality, creativity and self-expression. Apollo is the God of beauty, Master of all arts and crafts. He is the Lord of prophesy and healing, Patron of both physical and spiritual medicine. Apollo is also God of music, which to the Greeks had mathematical significance and represented cosmic order. In later times Apollo was viewed as the Sun God and Lord of the Year. In one legend He is made to win a musical contest with a satyr names Marsyas, representing the triumph of Spring over Winter. In later times His polar opposite is Dionysus, Lord of satyrs. Brother of Artemis/Diana, Apollo will redily be seen to be the God portrayed in the Vangelo delle Streghe as the Lord of Light, Master of the Physical World.
GREEN MAN -The Green Man, also called Green Jack or Green George, represents the spirit of vegetation which returns to the Earth in Spring and flourishes in Summer. The Green Man is particularly associated with the Spring Equinox, but also with the growing season generally. The Green Man represents the life of the forrest and of the fields, and the God as the flowering of the material world. The Green Man is represented in various ways. Often only His face is shown surrounded by foliage, which in some versions He is breathing out of His mouth. Sometimes He is represented by a tree or a man in a tree costume. Frequently the Green Man is shown with His tongue extended, representing the God's sexuality and vital energy. The Green Man represents the God energy growing forth from the Goddess even as the green vegetation grows from the Earth.
MARS -Although usually thought of as a God of war, the Roman God Mars is actually much more than this. Mars represents the Summer season, the growing crops, the warmth of the Sun which fertilizes the Earth. Mars represents courage, strength, and action -the ability to accomplish goals and move forward. Mars represents strength and honor, virtue and personal integrity. Mars is associated with Venus and Vulcan in a seasonal myth in which Mars is the summer season, Vulcan the winter season, and Venus the Earth which forever moves between the two. Mars is a God of personal acheivement, action, and success.
PERCIVAL -Percival or Peredur figures in the legend of King Arthur as the Knight who finds the sacred Grail, which restores the stricken King to health. In the earliest versions of this ancient tale it is not King Arthur, but the Fisher King whom Peredur must heal. In the castle of the Fisher
King Percival witnesses a sacred procession. Two men, dressed in polar colors, carry a huge spear, which drips blood. Behind comes a maiden carrying a Chalice, with an image of a head (Celtic symbol of the soul) inside it. Asked what this procession means, Percival remains silent. He is later told that had he answered, the Fisher King would have been cured of His lameness -that is to say the Old God of Winter would have been reborn as the Young God of Spring. The secret of this procession, which Percival did not speak, is this: the blood-dripping Spear is the God-force, overflowing with life, which comes out of the Goddess represented by the head in the cauldron, representing the consciousness of the womb of creation.
THOR -Originally called Thunar, or "Thunder", Thor is the Germanic God of storms and fertility. Son of the Earth Goddess Lord, Thor embodied the vitality of the life force, and the masculine virtues of courage and integrity. Thor was pictured as a red bearded man carrying the sacred thunder-hammer Mjollnir, or in some versions a sacred thunder-axe. With this magical implement Thor made thunder and lightning, and sent the fertilizing rains upon the Earth, His Mother. Thor was also strongly linked to sacred trees and sacred groves, and was sometimes represented by a tree
LESSON IX - SYMBOLS, OMENS, AND DIVINATION
SYMBOLS, OMENS, AND DIVINATION
Symbolism is extremely important in Pagan religion, and probably has been since the beginning.
Symbolism is the use of an easily recognized creature or object to represent a more abstract or elevated concept. Thus a serpent may be used to represent psychic power and connection to the Divine. A feather may represent truth, purity, or the element of Air. Or the Chalice may be used to represent the womb of creation, and the Goddess' all-pervading, all-sustaining Spirit.
In Wicca -as with all things in life- everything is exactly as it seems on the surface, yet below that surface has many other levels. Through the use of symbolism even seemingly simple images and acts take on rich deeper meanings. The casting of the Circle and the calling of the Quarters symbolically portray the creation of the Universe, and the interaction of elements which continues it -from thought (Air), to action (Fire), to emotional reaction (Water), to understanding and integration (Earth). The conjoining of the cup and sword portrays the eternal interaction of Goddess and God, Spirit and Matter, Death and Life.
So too the rich symbolism of animals, plants, and abstract motifs can be used to convey important spiritual ideas in the decoration of simple objects. A Chalice decorated with lotuses speaks of the growth of spiritual enlightenment -for the lotus is rooted in the mud and grows up through water to bloom in the open air, even as our consciousness is rooted in physical perception, grows up through emotional and mental understanding, to bloom in spiritual enlightenment. An Athame decorated with the head of a stag refers to the magical qualities of the Old God, while oak leaves refer to the strength and vitality of the Young God.
The use of multiple symbols to convey complex spiritual ideas is called ALLEGORY. It has been said that allegory is the crowning achievement of Pagan thought. Allegory allows a single artwork, story, or symbolic action to convey many meanings at once, on many levels. Allegory allows subtle ideas to be conveyed through simpler, blunter forms, so that they may be more easily understood.
Thus a myth such as the DESCENT OF THE GODDESS, which appears so simple on the surface that it could be taken as a children's tale, speaks not only to issues of life and death, but the interaction of Spirit and Matter, the nature of reality, the energetic system of the Chakras, and the cycle of the seasons, all at once.
Symbolism is important because, though intelligible to the conscious mind, it also speaks directly to our subconscious and can be absorbed on that level. Often the conscious mind can absorb in symbolic fashion complex ideas that it could not grasp easily in abstract form. In this way we can make an emotional connection to information which we might otherwise find too complicated to identify with intellectually.
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